McLaren 720S Spider convertible
"Breathtaking performance combined with unadulterated engine noise makes the McLaren 720S Spider an even more visceral experience than the coupe"
- Incredible performance
- Open-air thrills
- Comfort setting
- Build quality issues
- Disappointing infotainment
- High price over coupe
The McLaren 720S is one of our favourite supercars because it has such a breadth of ability, as well as incredible outright performance. This 720S Spider, the convertible version, is arguably even better. Its figures are identical to the hard-top coupe, yet you get the added benefit of being able to drop the roof and hear the 710bhp V8 engine in all its glory. If you’re shopping for a car like this, it’s also worth considering cars the Ferrari 488 Spider, Lamborghini Huracan Spyder and the upcoming replacement for the Audi R8 Spyder, even if the McLaren is more expensive than all of these.
After the McLaren F1 of the 1990s, it’s hard to believe that McLaren only started making road cars again in 2011, with the 12C. Since then, the range has grown rapidly, and McLaren has split its models into three categories. The ‘entry-level’ Sports Series includes the McLaren 540C, the McLaren 570S and the McLaren 600LT, plus convertible versions of the latter two. The 720S and 720S Spider occupy the mid-tier Super Series, while the Ultimate Series concerns the upper echelon of supercar ownership; it includes the Senna, Senna GTR and the Speedtail.
The McLaren 720S Spider adds to the beautiful bodywork of the coupe with glazed buttresses and a removable roof. Underneath, there’s the same carbon-fibre core as the coupe, which doesn’t need any extra strengthening to keep it rigid. That means the exhilarating speed and power remains the same. The sprint from 0-62mph is dispatched in just 2.8 seconds, and the car will go on to a top speed of 212mph.
McLaren has tweaked the ‘dihedral’ doors for the convertible, but the result is that our test car had different-sized panel gaps on each side. It’s one of the only bugbears of a car that is otherwise nearing supercar perfection.
MPG, running costs & CO2
If you’re contemplating buying a car of this type, it’s unlikely you’ll be worried about fuel economy and CO2 figures. Compared to a normal car, the running costs are eye-watering, but figures of 23.2mpg and 276g/km of CO2 are broadly similar to the Ferrari 488 GTB and Lamborghini Huracan. However, while the Huracan is claimed to return the same economy figure as the 720S, the Lamborghini has 100bhp less, and can’t match the McLaren’s performance figures.
The price increase for the 720S Spider over the coupe is sizeable. At £237,000, the Spider is over £28,000 more expensive than the fixed-roof model, but we’ve no doubt that McLaren will find plenty of buyers regardless. Of course, you can significantly add to the price by choosing a few optional extras - our test car had a special roof worth £7,500.
Engines, drive & performance
With a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 producing 710bhp and a barmy 770Nm of torque, the McLaren 720S Spider is rarely anything other than breathtaking. Find somewhere legal to use launch control, and the force of acceleration will have you firmly pinned back in your seat. The performance is frankly brutal, and it’s amplified by the extra engine noise in the Spider. A Ferrari 488 GTB sounds better but we don’t think the difference is a decisive factor in its favour.
More impressive than the 720S’ straight-line speed is the way it corners. It’s poised, accurate and develops huge amounts of grip, with the lightweight core ensuring that it’s both agile and incredibly stiff. You can dial up the car’s responses by switching through the driving modes. For ultimate driving thrills, the Track mode is the most focused - even hiding the infotainment screen so you can concentrate on driving. Below that are Sport and Comfort, which manage to make the 720S Spider both insanely fast yet more comfortable, too.
Interior & comfort
As you’d expect, the interior has been carried over wholesale from the coupe, albeit with a couple of tweaks. The Bowers & Wilkins stereo, for example, has been changed to specifically complement top-down driving, even if the wind noise and buffering isn’t too intrusive. When you want to put the roof up, it takes just 11 seconds at speeds up to 31mph.
The ride quality is impressive for a car that’s so focused on performance, and the all-round visibility is surprisingly good. It’s clear that McLaren has worked very hard to make the 720S usable but the interior isn’t perfect. The infotainment system is a let-down: it’s hard to use, can be slow to react and doesn’t offer much in the way of connectivity.
Practicality & boot space
Practicality is unlikely to be one of your biggest concerns when splurging nearly £250,000 on a supercar, but the 720S Spider does fairly well in this department compared with rivals. We mentioned it briefly above, but it’s refreshing to drive a supercar that doesn’t ignore the importance of visibility. You don’t want to be scraping those carbon-fibre parts on a kerb.
Under the bonnet there’s 150 litres of usable space, which is only slightly less than the boot space of a Toyota Aygo. You’ll be able to fit a couple of bags in there, or stock up on groceries in a midweek shop. With the roof up, there’s another 58 litres of space to fill.
Reliability & safety
Because the 720S Spider will be sold in such small numbers, it won’t be crash-tested by Euro NCAP. However, it should keep occupants safe in a collision. The car’s Monocage II-S carbon-fibre chassis essentially cocoons the driver and passenger in a rigid capsule, and its construction means it’s incredibly strong. It was designed for track use and the possibility of high-speed impacts.
Some previous McLarens have suffered with the odd electrical gremlin but generally the company is known for its painstaking attention to detail, so we’d expect owners to face few problems.